Home run summer: Indiana

Our series continues looking at a player or a group of players from each Big Ten team who needs a home run type of summer before preseason camp begins. Who needs to hit it out of the park in preparation for the season?

For previous entries, click here.

In the batter's box: Indiana

Who needs to step it up: Junior college arrivals on defense

If Indiana's defense takes a step toward respectability in 2011, its junior college arrivals will play significant roles. After finishing between 109 and 118th nationally in four major statistical categories last season -- total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense -- the Hoosiers looked to the juco ranks and signed five players on the defensive side (six overall). IU didn't sign these players to sit on the bench in 2011, and several stood out during spring practice. All five juco players -- linebackers Jacarri Alexander and David Cooper, safeties Tregg Waters and Ryan Thompson, and defensive end Justin Rayside -- should play significant roles on a defense that lacks experience despite starting seven freshmen (four true, three redshirt) in 2011. It's important for the juco players to build on the spring and establish themselves not only as reliable contributors, but as potential leaders for a unit that needs more direction this season. Cooper and Thompson are among those in contention for starting positions coming out of the spring.